The Coney Island of Culture

TALIM Auctioneer Loftus cropped
TALIM Auctioneer Loftus

For a few hours last Saturday, this venerable institution was transformed for our fundraiser into an auction hall, a Coney Island “lucky dip” (sort of raffle) parlor, and a place where Tangier’s multinational blend of friends of the Legation gathered to give us a hand.

Though we didn’t match the levels raised in our first foray into fundraising – “Paint the Legation” in 2011 – we nevertheless netted a respectable $7,000 in one evening.  And we all had a great time, giving us a chance to showcase our latest exhibits.

The success of the evening was thanks to a number of people and institutions donating works of art for the auction, prizes for the Lucky Dip, and subsidizing our catering for the evening.  Thanks to all for this help, which included several local volunteers offering their services as gatekeepers, auctioneers, and agents encouraging the donation of art for the highest bidders.

I remember hearing about another American in Morocco, who, as the head of a nonprofit educational institution, was put in the position of a fundraiser.  He likened himself to Morocco’s Gnawa musicians, men in brightly colored costumes who play their African-influenced music on the street, twirling their heads and stretching out the cup for a few coins.

So even though I didn’t do the actual auctioneering, playing the showman in the cause of our historic preservation efforts is worth it.  They don’t teach you how to do this in the Foreign Service, but then again I never learned about running a museum and research center, until I got here four years ago.  Gnawa-like passing the hat is just part of the job.

Gerald Loftus; photo by Jean-Pierre Ayadi

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